The Sheep of Kephas

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For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-03-27

Here is Bulletin_2016-03-27

Easter Triduum: We will use a quote from the USCCB Website article Triduum to open our consideration of what these three days mean to us:

The summit of the Liturgical Year is the Easter Triduum—from the evening of Holy Thursday to the evening of Easter Sunday. Though chronologically three days, they are liturgically one day unfolding for us the unity of Christ’s Paschal Mystery.

For a number of the sheep of Kephas, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper was the doorway through which they entered into these three days of Divine Mystery. All were there seeking to participate fully in this treasured experience that destroys the bonds of time and place and makes us truly present to witness the establishment of the priesthood and the institution of the Holy Eucharist. There would be no disappointment for them because that is what they witnessed last night.

Yet, lurking in the background, there were other realities. The place was wrong. Once again, the sheep were not at St. Peter’s, they were at St. John the Baptist. Yes, this has been one more year in exile; another year separated from our Parish, our spiritual community, and our friends.

080.vi@c3@a1tico-bigWhether he knows it or not, Fr. Fasano has provided safe refuge for many of the Sheep in Exile. His personal and inspiring exposition of his love for the priesthood has renewed our belief that the Sacrament of Orders was, indeed, instituted by Christ.  Father shared many of his own life stories. One was very recent. Earlier in the day, he was asked to go to High Knob to visit someone who was dying; while there he administered the Last Rites and consoled the family. He mentioned that High Knob is not an easy driving experience. But his story was not about the difficulties. His story is about what the priesthood is all about. It is to bring Christ to those in need and to open the gates of Heaven to them.

There was another reality and that reality was even more poignant for me. Although I was at Mass, listening to Fr. Fasano, my wife was not with me. This was the first time that I can recall in these many years since her conversion that she was not beside me during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. In our minds, she had a different and more important mission for that evening – she had to be in a home on High Knob to visit someone who was dying and to console her best friend of 31 years.

The Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy work best when combined. On one hand, you will visit the sick and on the other, you will console the sorrowful. When you do the two together, Christ enters into your actions and sanctifies them. And, equally important, you must pray. That is why I was at Mass last night – my job was, and still is, to pray.

However, this Triduum story has other thoughts for us to consider. Fr. Fasano has his role. My wife and I have our respective roles. There is another person that is truly important in this story. My wife’s friend of 31 years has stood beside her husband in suffering far longer than these few months battling cancer. For years, her husband has been disabled by a disease that required constant attention. She could have had him placed in some type of caring facility. But she knew that he would be totally disoriented in such a place. Instead of taking the easy path, she chose the difficult path – the path of love. Not the Valentine’s day type of sweetness and smiles, she chose the path of serving the man she married through sickness and mental anguish.

Isn’t the path our friend chose the very same path that Jesus chose in the Garden while his disciples slept? He could have walked away from His cup of sorrow, but He did not. Our friend could have walked away from her cup of sorrow, but she did not.

For her, as for Mary, there will be a day of great loss and sadness. We will try to be there for her.

Yet, this is the Triduum. We know how the Triduum ends – it ends with Easter. In her heart, our friend already knows that. Let us look to the Triduum for strength and let us look to Easter for great joy!

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For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-03-20

Here is Bulletin_2016-03-20

My wife and I have had a wonderful day together. The day began with Mass at St. John the Baptist – we, along with our guardian angels, felt true peace. Later, we had St. Peter’s to ourselves and took the opportunity to pray the Way of the Cross together. The reflections of Lent are so helpful when we are tempted to complain about our minor problems. Suffering and penance are necessary to attain the joy of Easter.

Although we are in very good spirits this evening, our post is rather somber and dark. As time passes and we see the cumulative effects of our current situation at St. Peter’s, it becomes difficult to write in hope-filled terms. That does not mean there is no hope. It only means that it becomes increasingly difficult to see it. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts that come from this week’s bulletin.

Analysis and Commentary: Two Recurring Themes

In the beginning, he took things away – for example, the bells, the richness of the liturgy, and the missalettes.

That was not enough though – he had to fill the void. It is a familiar methodology. First comes deprivation. Next comes substitution. My Navy Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) training would call this a brainwashing technique – you end up believing what they want you to believe. You have been put off balance, then you are manipulated.

Substitution Theme One: Having lost our central focus on the Eucharist, we are now called to “group reunion” – “D0 you want to go on Cursillo?” The recent Laudato Si dialog sessions are another example of substitution. With Cursillo we can sing “De Colores” all day long, but in this diocese you won’t hear what Cursillo was intended to be. (My wife and I found that out at Holy Family Parish back in 1985/1986 when another radical pastor caught us actually using the official Cursillo materials that provided the substance of faith upon which the Cursillo movement was originally founded. The radical pastor was not pleased with our exposition of the truth.)

Consider how many times we have heard about Cursillo from our Pastor. Just in case you forgot, you can review the following posts:

Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #8 – Bishop With a ‘Fresh View’

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-05-17 – Absence

Dead Horse #5 – A Herd of Dead Horses

Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #3

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-01-04

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2014-12-21

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2014-12-07

“A breath of fresh air”

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2014-11-16

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin Nov. 9, 2014

Substitution Theme Two: You might not be able to follow the Mass because you have been deprived of a missalette, but, with the Little Book series, you can surely follow Bishop Ken Untener, a documented dissenter. This week you will be able to obtain your own personal copy of The Little White Book. (We’re sure you’ll love the piece on May 5th, the Feast of the Ascension. You will find the most charming reflection on the life of Fr. Andrew Greeley, even if he was “sometimes controversial”.) We have spoken at length about the Little Book series already. You can find most of that in the following posts:

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-02-28

Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #9 – Bumper Stickers

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-12-06

Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #6 – Victory!

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2015-03-29

Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #4 – Update

Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #4

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2014-11-30

 

 

 

Rules and Tools for Radical Pastors #11 – Organized

1. Prayers Answered: After posting For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-03-13, many responded offering prayers for our grandchild with appendicitis. The appendectomy went well and the recovery has been routine and uneventful. The parents and grandparents do not take God’s grace for granted, nor do we take our Catholic prayer community for granted. Thank you, God, and thank you all.

2. Overload: This past two weeks have been filled with several time consuming commitments resulting from discussions here at the Sheep of Kephas blog. For those of you who volunteered me for an interesting assignment, be advised that the first steps have been successful, but discretion and prudence dictate that I do not elaborate in this forum. My beautiful wife has allowed me to devote the time to these matters and she has been there to  encourage and counsel me. Soon, we will celebrate our 44th anniversary. Be certain that I realize and appreciate how greatly I am blessed.

3. Organized: Before we get into the details of our radical Pastor’s recent community organizing successes, please take some time to view some relevant references. In that way, you will know that we’re not making this stuff up. Here you go:

Notes from Care of Our Common Home Feb. 14, 2016

The Pope and Rappahannock [15 Feb 2016]

The Divine Milieu Explained [17 Feb 2016]

A Roomful of Problem Solvers [21 Feb 2016]

Does Francis Know? [13 Mar 2016]

And there it is – so far. People have been drawn to the discussion, the dialog. Slowly, but ever so surely they are being organized. Consider the following statement:

This Conversation, like the one in February and the one to come in April, was organized by Beverly Hunter of RappFlow, by Russ Savage of the Universalist Unitarians of Sperryville, by the Green Team of St. James Episcopal Church in Warrenton, and by Father Tuck Grinnell, pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in Washington VA.

The question becomes – Who organized the organizers? Not surprisingly the answer is – Our Pastor is the organizer. Furthermore, he was the trainer. Although I have the precise words and attribution, let me restate her remark indirectly and allow this particular discussion leader to remain unnamed, she indicated that she was using the “method” recommended by our radical Pastor to lead the discussion.

And what are the fruits of this discussion? Here are some selected quotes from accounts of the first two meetings:

Read the encyclical. The pope is right about greed. Wrong about overpopulation.

We need to rid ourselves of addiction to a perpetual growth model for our economy.
Critical of the encyclical: most important is overpopulation. Absence of this issue is a weakness of the encyclical. Answer = (?) will solve the problem. 0 action, movement, by large groups.
Past tipping point towards doom. Pop control: 11 million by 2050
“Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.”(Unitarian universalist)
If the afternoon had a topical sentence, it would be this question: how can we empower our leaders to understand poor people?  Came one answer: invite Al Gore to Rappahannock County.
In this discussion one is not permitted to question the opinions of the various commentators. Yet, I suspect some of you, dear readers, would feel the need arise within you to speak up in dissent. Meanwhile, our Pastor our parish dissenter, has found no reason yet to openly defend the Church’s teaching on Life in this forum, which has been constructed in the name of Pope Francis. That is why we have this blog – to counter dissent with assent; to defend the teaching of Jesus Christ and His Church.
Thus, Rappahannock County has been organized. The social causes “identified” at these meetings will be echoed by the Foothills Forum and other social justicism forces within the county. Because they have been organized, there surely will be change. And we watch it happening before our very eyes.

 

For the Sheep in Exile – Bulletin 2016-03-13

Here is Bulletin_2016-03-13

Grandparents never cease to be parents. When grandchildren are sick, the concern is not only for the grandchild. The concern naturally and rightly extends to the parents of the grandchild as well. Today, very early in the morning, a grandchild fell ill with appendicitis. Of course, the prayers started immediately and our Mass was offered for that one intention. The entire family was called to pray. Each and every one responded – this was family.

As the day wore on, the grandchild had to be transported to Richmond. There was the usual worry and waiting. That was followed by the long period of silence while the grandchild was in the operating room. Finally, the word came. All was well! Prayers have been answered.

Our child, the parent, the one with the immediate responsibility to care for and make the right decisions for the grandchild, was both relieved and tired. We, the grandparents, are thankful for the outcome. The grandchild is recovering and our child is staying close by at the hospital tonight. As we said, the concern was not only for the grandchild, although that was first and foremost. Our concern naturally and rightly extended to our own child. We prayed for right decisions and spiritual calm.

Grandparents never cease to be parents. Instead, their love and concern expands from their first God-given gifts and extends onward to the following generations. It is a mysterious gift and an extraordinary grace.

As God has built the family and the hearts of grandparents, so He has built the Church and the hearts of the Apostles and the Saints. His grace is without limit!

 

 

 

For the Sheep in Exile – 2016-03-06

Here is Bulletin_2016-03-06

Spiritual Coping Skills: Last Friday, my wife and I were separated and the events of that day highlighted the pain of our separation. (See Chester Gap.) Today was far different. We started the day with Mass at St. John the Evangelist. Routine shopping was followed by household chores. In the early afternoon, we went to St. Peter’s for our own private Stations of the Cross. It was quiet and our reflections on the Crucifixion brought us to a reality more relevant than our petty concerns and worries.

And there it was. A day of healing and a day of coping with our problems. In our days in the crazy Diocese of Boise we learned Spiritual Coping Skills. The Idaho State hero of folklore, Napoleon Dynamite, stated the need for developing important skills in a very succinct way:

“You know, like numchuku skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills… Girls only want boyfriends who have great skills!”

If we wanted to retain our faith and our sanity, we had to develop Spiritual Coping Skills. Mass, Communion, the Stations of the Cross – this is where you learn those skills.

Others at St. Peter’s have learned how to develop the skills needed to survive this period of “the orthodoxy interregnum”. Here are excerpts from a comment we received this week from a person we highly respect. These excerpts show that, despite the frustration and personal discomfort we have all encountered, he does his best to keep his spiritual life growing and maturing:

…. I am now retired, and presently just “retired”, without commitments on [most of] my time. I face the daily decisions of whether to commute to MY parish, St. Peter’s, and perhaps then read my Wanderer at the Country Cafe over my Farm Breakfast; or to go to Warrenton, where rooted Catholic priests would celebrate a dogmatic, thoughtful Mass, and I could buy a Washington Times (Safeway only gets 3 copies; you have to be early), and read my Wanderer at Chick-fil-A [supporting a brother Knight]. The only daily Mass options offered at St. Peter’s are M-W-F (this gets me to a Warrenton gym at least a few times per week): Tuesday has been the Priest’s Day off for several pastors, Saturday was cancelled by Fr. Murphy because he had to also do the vigil Hispanic Mass at St. John the Apostle on Saturday, and now our present pastor feels his contributions on Thursday evening should be all that is required of him for that day, so he cancelled the Thursday morning Mass (and he has not restored Saturday morning, despite losing the excuse of the previous pastor). I know he has other calls on his time than scheduled celebrations, but isn’t celebrating Mass [a BIG] part of his salary? He’s too busy on his “social justice” ministry, I guess.

On Wednesday, 2/24, I checked our bulletin and saw nothing untoward, and decided to attend Mass at my Parish in order to pursue some more Parish maintenance chores I am working. With NO prejudice to Deacon Benyo’s excellent celebration of a Communion Service, I did not get to Mass on Wednesday. I arrived and was surprised to find that there was no Mass offered at St. Peter’s that day; our pastor was “otherwise engaged”, and we had the Deacon instead of the scheduled Mass.

I want to support the Country Cafe, but I fear more of my decisions will be to Warrenton, instead of the unreliable services at St. Peter’s. What a sorry commentary on what was once one of the most notorious orthodox bastions in the diocese. I pray the “lost sheep”, and I, can hold out until our Pastor retires, and we can perhaps restore our lost Parish soul. ….

There it is. Daily Mass, reading from orthodox Catholic news sources, placing spiritual well being before convenience – these are now the necessary Spiritual Coping Skills needed by the sheep in exile and the sheep in residence and resistance at St. Peter’s. When a new pastor is finally assigned to St. Peter’s, these faithful ones who have developed their Spiritual Coping Skills will be the people who will help in restoring “what was once one of the most notorious orthodox bastions in the diocese.

Spiritual Justice: Another commentator recently made note of our expression “Spiritual Justice”. If we look through this week’s bulletin, you will find many phrases and expressions reflecting on the Corporal Works of Mercy, but it is hard to find one about the spirit of a man or the salvation of souls. I attended a Catholic grade school in the 50’s and I learned there that a man is more than his belly and his gut. Sr. Mary Lucienne, a beautiful woman of God who helped me overcome my grief when my sister died, would want me always to remember a lesson from Baltimore Catechism No. 1:

3. Q. What is man?
A. Man is a creature composed of body and soul, and made to the image and likeness of God.

In the end, there are the four last things: Death, Judgement, Heaven or Hell. Perhaps the greatest expression of justice is to attend to the spiritual life and well being of those around you – Spiritual Justice.

Join the Conversation – The Epicenter: Of course, without question and without fail, once again the drum of Social Justicism is beating in our weekly bulletin. The flyer, the flyer with the color photo of Pope Francis, the flyer with the deceptive statement that there will be a conversation “On Care for Our Common Home”, you will find the flyer that cannot be missed. You are invited to the second in a series of five monthly conversations. There is so much to say that we will have to write a separate post. Until we can publish the post, take some time to consider, Where did this county-wide movement begin? How was this array of “inter-faith” and liberal conservation entities/personalities drawn together? Who was the organizing force?

The answer is simple. No matter which source you consult, whether it be RappFLOW or our own bulletin, only one name is at the epicenter of this community organizer’s dream. And that would be our own Pastor. No matter who acts as the front man, the person behind all this is the man whose “only daily Mass options offered at St. Peter’s are M-W-F.” To quote our first commentator, “… but isn’t celebrating Mass [a BIG] part of his salary? He’s too busy on his “social justice” ministry, I guess.